News

Silverstein Wellness and Concussion Center Opening at Penn

  • September 20, 2016
  • vol 63 issue 6
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This state-of-the-art Silverstein Wellness and Concussion Center will be housed on the second floor of the Frey Athletic Training Room, in the east end of historic Franklin Field.

 

caption: Howard and Patricia Silverstein

The University of Pennsylvania’s Director of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics, M. Grace Calhoun, announced the construction of the Howard A. Silverstein, W’69 and Patricia Bleznak Silverstein, C’81 Holistic Wellness and Concussion Center, the latest innovation in Penn Athletics Sports Performance.

The Silverstein Wellness and Concussion Center—which will be the first of its kind among the Ivy League institutions when it opens later this month—further highlights Penn Athletics’ commitment to empower student-athlete excellence (personal and athletic) by providing a diverse set of medical and wellness services in an all-inclusive space with dedicated staff conducting customized programming. This state-of-the-art facility will be housed on the second floor of the Frey Athletic Training Room, in the east end of historic Franklin Field.

In the area of concussion research, the Silverstein Wellness and Concussion Center will provide space for development of concussion research and current projects including the Ivy League/Big Ten Concussion Study and Penn’s involvement with the NCAA/Department of Defense Sport Related Concussion Study.

The Silverstein Wellness and Concussion Center will also house Penn’s Bodpod Testing area. This technology tests for optimal athletic body composition and allows for precision programming by Penn’s full-time sports nutritionist. There will be office space for Penn’s head athletic trainer and its sports nutritionist, as well as appropriate space for private meetings with student-athletes. There will also be a private area specifically designated for consultations with clinically certified sports psychologists.

The physical space will include a conference area to enable integral collaboration among Penn Sports Performance professionals, allowing for professional development and in-service opportunities with Penn Medicine physicians and other medical partners associated with the Sports Performance program. In this way, Penn’s Sports Performance staff will enhance its growing partnership with Penn Medicine—which already has a fully operational Penn Sports Medicine facility within the Penn Athletics footprint—and facilitate communication between these two departments in the areas of research, evaluation and analysis.

“The Howard A. Silverstein, W’69 and Patricia Bleznak Silverstein, C’81 Holistic Wellness and Concussion Center truly embodies universal care for our student-athletes,” said Dr. Calhoun. “The ability to provide a space that is all-inclusive within our athletic facilities allows us to provide the gold standard in comprehensive care and at the same time serve to elevate athletic performance. I firmly believe this space will be an area of differentiation with its distinguishing set of resources. Howard and Patricia Silverstein’s generosity will provide a complete, positive experience to every one of our athletes for years to come.”

Mr. Silverstein is a member of the Athletics Board of Overseers and, while an undergraduate student at Wharton, was head manager of Penn’s sprint football team and associate head manager of the varsity football team. He is also an overseer of PennDesign. His wife, Patricia, is an overseer of Penn’s School of Nursing. “We are extremely excited for the Silverstein Holistic Wellness and Concussion Center, as we foresee the great impact it will provide to our student-athletes,” said Scarlett Schneider, executive director of development for Penn Athletics. “Howie’s leadership and support within Penn Athletics is inspiring.”

“I am thrilled to provide Penn Athletics with an innovative, state-of-the-art facility that not only improves the care and management of concussions, but also takes care of Penn’s student-athletes as a whole,” said Mr. Silverstein. “Today’s athletes deserve integrated care. This facility will make a difference to all of our student-athletes, now and for the future.”

New College House Ribbon Cutting

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Cam Grey, the faculty director of New College House (NCH), joined Penn President Amy Gutmann in last week’s NCH ribbon-cutting ceremony, signifying the completion of the seven-story, 198,000-square-foot, $127 million project. The building’s façade consists of brick and limestone, punctuated by vertical glass towers revealing interior circulation and lounge spaces with views of Penn’s surrounding campus community and Center City. Furniture and building materials were selected to contribute to sustainability for the building which is targeting a LEED certification of Silver or greater. The 180 dining chairs in the student suites were fabricated in Pennsylvania from a 20,000 discarded soda bottles. Each coffee table in the student suites was designed and fabricated in South Philadelphia.

US News Rankings

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In the recently released US News & World Report rankings of colleges and universities, Penn is ranked eighth overall among national universities (tied with Duke University), up from last year’s ranking of ninth. This year, Princeton and Harvard are in the top two slots, with Yale sharing the third slot with the University of Chicago.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has retained its #1 post as the best undergraduate business program in the country, which it has held for many years. It is also ranked #1 in three specialties: finance, insurance/risk management and real estate; it is ranked #2 in marketing; #3 in four specialities: entrepreneurship, management, production/operations management and quantitative analysis/methods; and #4 in accounting.

The Faculty Award of Merit Presented by Penn Alumni Call for Nominations—October 31

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The Faculty Award of Merit Presented by Penn Alumni was established in 2014 by Penn Alumni and the Office of the Provost. It is presented annually to an individual or group of collaborators that has made an outstanding contribution to alumni education and engagement at Penn by sharing their unique scholarship work with the alumni community. Special emphasis is placed on faculty members who go above and beyond the call of duty by engaging Penn alumni with the University as their intellectual home, and to those who educate the faculty community about the alumni engagement opportunities available to them. The 2016 honoree was Jonathan Moreno, the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor of Ethics and PIK Professor.

The award consists of both a $2,500 cash award and a formal citation, and will be presented during the February Penn Alumni Volunteer Leadership Retreat.

All Penn faculty, staff and alumni are eligible to nominate a faculty member for this award. For more information about award criteria and eligibility, or to nominate a faculty member, visit www.alumni.upenn.edu/education  Nominations are due by October 31, 2016.

University Research Foundation: October 28

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The University Research Foundation (URF) is now accepting applications for the October 28 deadline.

The URF is an intramural program that provides three funding mechanisms: Research and Conference Support, Impact Seminar Grants and Research Opportunity Development Grants.

URF Research Grants and Conference Support

URF Research Grants and Conference Support provides up to $50,000 in project support and up to $3,000 for conference support. Its objectives are to:

• help junior faculty undertake pilot projects that will enable them to successfully apply for extramural sources of funding and aid in establishing their careers as independent investigators;

• help established faculty perform novel, pioneering research to determine project feasibility and develop preliminary data to support extramural grant applications;

• provide support in disciplines where extramural support is difficult to obtain and where significant research can be facilitated with internal funding; and

• provide limited institutional matching funds that are required as part of a successful external peer-reviewed application.

URF Impact Seminar Grants

URF Impact Seminar Grants will make awards up to $20,000 for support for a cross-school, cross-disciplinary large scale event to be held on Penn’s campus within a year of the award. Funding for this award can be used to augment an already scheduled University event. The event—which can be a symposium, forum or conference—should occur over one to two days and be open to the entire Penn community. It should highlight the scholarship of Penn faculty and bring distinguished scholars to Penn’s campus, with a particular focus on the University’s distinguishing strength in integrating knowledge. Documented school and/or department matching funds are required.

URF Research Opportunity Development Grants (RODG)

The Research Opportunity Grant program (Phase 1 and Phase 2) was designed to facilitate the intersection of the forward trajectory of Penn’s research frontiers with the trajectory of the national and global research priorities.  RODG applications should map on to emerging research areas with new opportunities for support. Awards from these programs should be used to develop preliminary information and data for new applications in these emerging research areas. The two programs are as follows.

Research Opportunity Development Grants: Phase 1

With an identified new research area in mind, Phase 1 grants enable a team to articulate the research focus, map Penn’s intellectual assets in the new area, coalesce the appropriate group of scholars,  identify Penn’s potential contributions in the area  in the context of national and international research initiatives and identify a funding target. Typically a Phase 1 proposal would lead to a Phase 2 application. In addition, special attention will be paid to project proposals that include mentorship of Penn undergraduates. Applications up to $10,000 will be considered.

Research Opportunity Development Grants: Phase 2

Phase 2 grants offer extensive support for up to two years to enable specific outcomes in support of a center or group proposal to an external funding organization.  Activities include research workshops, preliminary studies, networking in the relevant research community, etc.  Specific outcomes are expected. Documented matching department and/or school funds will be considered positively. In addition, special attention will be paid to project proposals that include mentorship of Penn undergraduates. Applications with requests between $50, 000 to $200,000 will be considered.

Note that Phase 2 grants are not intended to support the development of proposals that respond to regular solicitations such as those for NIH RO1 grants or NSF Division programs.

Disciplines for all award programs: Biomedical Sciences, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Engineering, Social Science and Management.

Undergraduate Participation: As part of the University’s commitment to providing research opportunities to scholars across our campus community, URF applicants are encouraged to include undergraduate student participants within the framework of their proposals.

Budget: Each URF program has separate budget requirements.

Eligibility for all award programs: Eligibility is limited to Penn assistant, associate and full professors, in any track. Instructors and research associates must provide a letter from their department chair establishing that the applicant will receive an appointment as an assistant professor by the time of the award. Assistant professors must submit a letter from their department chair describing their research independence. Adjunct faculty are not eligible to apply. Awards must be expended on University of Pennsylvania facilities, equipment and/or associated University technical staff and undergraduate students.
Detailed information including application materials can be found at http://www.upenn.edu/research/smarts/university_research_foundation/

—Dawn Bonnell, Vice Provost for Research

Spring 2016 University Research Foundation Awards

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In the most recent cycle, Spring 2016, of Penn’s internally-funded University Research Foundation, and URF Conference Support (noted with *), the Office of the Vice Provost for Research has announced awards to the following members of the faculty for the projects listed below.

Research and Conference Support Awards Spring 2016:

Ritesh Agarwal, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Materials Science and Engineering; Silicon Nanophotonics: Teaching Silicon New Tricks at the Nanoscale

Erfei Bi, Perelman School of Medicine, Cell and Developmental Biology; Using Innovative Technologies in Live Imaging to Uncover Mechanisms of Cell Behaviors

*David Brownlee, School of Arts and Sciences, History of Art; Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture at 50

*Hsiao-wen Cheng, School of Arts and Sciences, East Asian Languages and Civilizations; Rethinking Yijian zhi: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Narrative and Anecdotal Writings

Bart De Jonghe, School of Nursing, Biobehavioral Health Sciences; Neural Mechanisms of Chemotherapy-Induced Energy Dysregulation and Nausea

*Grant Frame, School of Arts and Sciences, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; Divination in the Ancient World

Erick Guerra, School of Design, City and Regional Planning; The Built Environment, Traffic Enforcement and Pedestrian Safety in the Philadelphia Region

Alexandra Hanlon, School of Nursing, Office of Nursing Research; Quantifying the Effects of Sleep on Cardiovascular Health Risk Factors: A Population Analysis Using Biobank Data

Jerry Jacobs, School of Arts and Sciences, Sociology; Technology and the Future of Work: A Case Study of Home Health Services

*Justin Khoury, School of Arts and Sciences, Physics; New Frontiers in Cosmology and String Theory

Matthew Levine, Perelman School of Medicine, Surgery; Peri-Operative Estrogen in Renal Transplantation (PERT) Trial

Timothy Linksvayer, School of Arts and Sciences, Biology; Manipulation of Ant Social Traits by a Bacterial Endosymbiont

Christopher Marcinkoski, School of Design, Landscape Architecture; Africa 2050: An Atlas of Speculative Urbanization

Mechthild Pohlschröder, School of Arts and Sciences, Biology; Significance of Glycosylation for the Regulation of Biofilm Formation

Prashant Purohit, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics; A Model for Stretch Growth of Integrated Axon Tracts

Michael Shashaty, Perelman School of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care; Molecular Markers of Acute Kidney Injury in Lung Transplant Recipients

*Emily Steiner, School of Arts and Sciences, English; The Futures of Medieval Historiography

Howard Stevenson, Graduate School of Education, Applied Psychology and Human Development; Black Family Racial Stress Reduction: Improving Racial Socialization Competence

Dawn Teele, School of Arts and Sciences, Political Science; Did Giving Women the Vote Matter for Electoral Politics?

*Jolyon Thomas, School of Arts and Sciences, East Asian Languages and Civilizations; What Isn’t Shinto?

*John Trueswell, School of Arts and Sciences, Psychology; 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society

Andrew Tsourkas, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Bioengineering; Engineering Brain Penetrating Antibodies

Julia Verkholantsev, School of Arts and Sciences, Slavic Languages; Language as Fossilized History: Myth and Etymology in Medieval Historiography

Richard Zettler, School of Arts and Sciences, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; Sidekan Archaeological Survey

Impact Seminar Grant Recipients

Claire Finkelstein, Law School, Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law; Producing Leaders of Character and Integrity: Instilling Values in Public Life

Karen Glanz, Perelman School of Medicine, Epidemiology and Nursing; Accelerating Policies and Research on Food Access, Diet and Obesity Prevention

Susan Sorenson, School of Social Policy and Practice; Technology and Violence Against Women

Shu  Yang, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Materials Science and Engineering; The First Penn-KIST Joint Symposium

Kenneth Zaret, Perelman School of Medicine, Cell and Developmental Biology; Controlling Cell and Human Identity

Research Opportunity Grant, Phase 2 Recipient

Steve Tinney, School of Arts and Sciences, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf: Cities and Maritime Networks 2500-2000 BCE

Government Affairs Update: Commonwealth Appropriations

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In July 2016, Governor Tom Wolf allowed the General Fund Appropriations Bill (Senate Bill 1073) to become law without his signature as he awaited the revenue package to pay for the spending plan. Items of significance to the Penn community in the General Fund Budget include $250,000 for the Penn Vet Working Dog Center; $3,253,000 from the Physician Practice Plan line in the Department of Human Services budget that provides funding for the Perelman School of Medicine and the School of Dental Medicine; and $800,000 in funding for Agricultural Research in the Department of Agriculture budget for the School of Veterinary Medicine’s diagnostic lab at New Bolton Center to address disease outbreak preparedness.

The Governor also signed into law House Bill 2141, which appropriated $30,416,000 for the School of Veterinary Medicine for FY2017. The FY2017 appropriation represented a 2.5% increase over the $29,674,000 appropriated in FY2016 and the first time the appropriation has surpassed $30 million in over half a decade.

—Hugh Allen, Senior Director of Commonwealth Relations

Passion Becomes A Practice for Future Veterinarians as Animal Planet Premieres Life at Vet U

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The six Penn Vet student stars of Life at Vet U: (left to right), Max Emanuel, Melanie Lang, Lindsay Gallagher, Clint Kuban, Rebecca Bernstein and Morgan Taylor; with the Weimaraner co-star, Frances.

 

Animal Planet takes viewers behind the scenes of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) as six students embark on a journey to graduation—the culmination of four intense, but rewarding, years of never-ending studying, round-the-clock rotations and unpredictable cases. With unprecedented access to the school’s two internationally renowned teaching hospitals—Ryan Hospital for companion animals and New Bolton Center hospital for large animals—Life at Vet U gives an exclusive look at the grit and grind it takes to make it in this highly competitive world. The Six-Part Series Premieres Saturday, October 1 (at 10 p.m. Eastern, 9 p.m. Central, 10 p.m. Pacific).

Known as a global leader in veterinary education, research and clinical care, Penn Vet challenges its students with daily high-stress, fast-paced situations and gives them the opportunity to receive rigorous training and feedback from some of the top pioneers in veterinary medicine. From the intricate work of cataract surgery, to a stallion collection for artificial insemination, each student gets the hands-on experience they need to one day tackle these cases out in the real world. Both personal and professional relationships evolve amid life-changing moments for both student and animal, but it is all worth it in the end at graduation when they get to call themselves veterinarians.

Penn Vet is equipped with some of the most advanced technology in the industry and sees nearly 40,000 patients a year. From dogs and cats; to horses, cows and zebras; the students are constantly challenged to be prepared for anything—whether it be spaying and neutering, births, surgeries or routine checkups. As graduation approaches, the students brace themselves for the most important day of their career —Match Day—which determines if they have been placed in a coveted internship. Do they get placed at their dream hospital, or do they have to scramble to even find a placement?

From lifelong dreams to work with animals, to the courageous decision to completely change a career path, Life at Vet U follows each student on the road to becoming a veterinarian. It is a personal journey, but the underlying drive for each of them is the same—a passion to improve the lives of animals.

To see the trailer, visit http://www.vet.upenn.edu/about/news-and-events/life-at-vet-u

Deaths

Norman Adler, Psychology

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Norman T. Adler, a former professor of psychology at Penn, died on September 11 in Jerusalem, Israel. He was 75 years old.

Dr. Adler joined Penn in 1968 as an assistant professor in the department of psychology. He became an associate professor in 1971 and a professor in 1976. He was also the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences during his time at Penn. 

He was the founder of (BBB) the biological basis of behavior program in 1978 and was its first director, a position he held until 1989 (Almanac December 19, 1978). In 1988, he received the Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievement in Health and Higher Education for his development of the program (Almanac October 25, 1988). He left Penn in 1993.

After a couple of years at Northeastern, Dr. Adler served as dean of Yeshiva College from 1995 to 2004. In 2004, he was appointed special assistant on academic and research initiatives to the vice president of academic affairs and also was named a professor of psychology.

He received the American Psychological Association Early Career Award and the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, as well as Harry Frank Guggenheim and John Simon Guggenheim fellowships (Almanac May 4, 1976April 16, 1985; and May 14, 1985).

Dr. Adler is survived by his second wife, Sheila Stein; his children, Shira (Andy), Tanya (David), Ari (Mesha), Kiva, and Tahg (Lital); his step-children, Jay (Dena), Alex (Yael), and Jonathan (Deborah); and many grandchildren.

The funeral and shiva took place in Israel. A memorial at Penn was held on November 20, but those who would like to share memories may do so at www.forevermissed.com/dr-norm-adler/

 

Editor's note: This article was corrected on October 4, 2016.

Richard Beeman, History

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Richard R. Beeman, the John Welsh Centennial Professor of History Emeritus at Penn, died on September 5 at the age of 74, of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was a member of the Penn faculty for 43 years, and had previously served as chair of the history department, associate dean in the School of Arts and Sciences and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

He was born in Seattle and grew up on the beach in Alamitos Bay, Long Beach, California. He earned his BA from the University of California, Berkeley in 1964; his MA from the College of William and Mary in 1965; and his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1968. Before coming to Penn, he served as a Fulbright Professor in the United Kingdom and the Vyvyan Harmsworth Distinguished Professor of American History at Oxford University.

Dr. Beeman was an historian of the American Revolutionary era who wrote eight books and many articles on aspects of America’s political and constitutional history in the 18th and early 19th centuries. His book Plain Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (2009) won the George Washington Book Prize and the Literary Award of the Philadelphia Athanaeum.

Dr. Beeman was a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center and chair of the Constitution Center’s Committee on Programs, Exhibits and Education.

Dr. Beeman received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and the Huntington Library.

Dr. Beeman is survived by his wife, Mary Cahill; his children, Kristin Dunning, and Joshua, who is a university information security officer at Penn; two grandchildren; his former wife, Pamela Butler; and a brother.

A memorial service will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, September, 26, at the National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St., Philadelphia.

Stephanie Marchesani, Penn Master’s Student

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Stephanie Marchesani, a part-time master’s student at Penn’s School of Nursing, died on September 11 in New Jersey. Ms. Marchesani was 30 years old.

She was born in Philadelphia and raised in Norwood, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Interboro High School in 2004 and graduated with honors from Temple University with a BS in nursing in 2008.

She had been working full-time as a registered nurse at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania since 2008. She enrolled in the adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner program in 2014.

Ms. Marchesani loved to travel and enjoyed cooking, biking and the occasional Broad Street Run.

She is survived by her mother, Madeline (Steve); her father, Michael; her sister, Laura (Matthew); her brother, Michael; and her boyfriend, Jeff.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for contributions to be made to The Nursing Memorial Scholarship Fund, in memory of Stephanie Marchesani, The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 418 Curie Blvd., Philadelphia PA 19104. Condolences may be sent to griffithfuneralchapel@verizon.net

Ahmed Zewail, Nobel Laureate

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Ahmed Hassan Zewail, a Nobel Laureate who conducted his graduate work at Penn and received an honorary Penn degree, died on August 2 at age 70.

Dr. Zewail, the first Egyptian and Arab to win a Nobel Prize in science, was considered a pioneer of ultrafast chemistry.

Dr. Zewail grew up in Desouk, Egypt, and earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in chemistry at the University of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1967 and 1969 respectively. He conducted graduate work at Penn on novel spectroscopies, including optically detected magnetic resonance, with Robin Hochstrasser, and received his PhD in 1974. His postdoctoral work, on coherence in multidimensional systems and energy transfer in solids, took place at the University of California, Berkeley, with Charles B. Harris. He joined the California Institute of Technology in 1976 as an assistant professor and became the first Linus Pauling Professor of Chemistry in 1995.

Dr. Zewail was a recipient of an honorary degree from Penn in 1997 and was recognized for being the first to realize the significance of ultrafast laser chemistry in the study of the dynamics of individual molecules (Almanac April 22, 1997).

Dr. Zewail was the sole recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Almanac October 19, 1999). He was chosen for his establishment of the field of laser femtochemistry, which made it possible to “view” the motion of a chemical reaction and “view” molecules falling apart in real-time using light pulses lasting one thousand-million-millionth of a second, or a picosecond.

Dr. Zewail wrote hundreds of scientific papers and contributed to more than a dozen books.

He is survived by his wife, Dema Faham, and their four children.

Honors

Carl June: Novartis Immunology Award

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Novartis has awarded the 2016 Novartis Prize for Clinical Immunotherapy to Carl H. June, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of pathology & laboratory medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and director of Translational Research in Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center. Dr. June was chosen for his work developing personalized cellular therapies for cancer using Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells (CAR T cells), a technology which modifies a patient’s own cells to attack their cancers. Dr. June’s team at Penn achieved the first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of CAR T cell therapy, an investigational approach in which a patient’s cells are removed through an apheresis process similar to dialysis and modified in Penn’s cell and vaccine production facilities.

He shares this year’s prize with Zelig Eshhar, of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, and Steven Rosenberg, of the National Institutes of Health.

The Novartis Prizes for Immunology are awarded every three years for breakthrough contributions to the fields of basic and clinical immunology and can be shared between as many as three scientists.

Grace Kao and Hyunjoon Park: Korean Studies Grant

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Penn Researchers Grace Kao and Hyunjoon Park have received a grant for 1.5 billion Korean Won (about $1.34 million) through the Korean Studies Promotion Programs at the Academy of Korean Studies. The five-year grant will support Drs. Kao and Park as they conduct the study, “Korean Millennials: Coming of Age in the Era of Inequality.” Dr. Kao is a professor of sociology, education & Asian American studies. Dr. Park is a Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Sociology and Education.

Helen Leicht: Connector Award

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Helen Leicht, radio host at WXPN, has been named the 2016 recipient of the “Connector Award” by LiveConnections. Ms. Leicht will be honored at the organization’s annual gala, the BIG HURRAH, on October 6.

Ms. Leicht has been a part of the Philadelphia radio community since 1976 when she worked as the midday host and music director at WIOQ, the then Album Oriented Radio station in Philadelphia. She joined WXPN in 1990 where she is now midday host, XPN local host and assistant program director. Through the WXPN Musicians On Call program, Ms. Leicht is able to combine two key interests: community outreach and local talent. She finds artists to perform bedside at local area hospitals, cheering up patients through the healing power of music.

Penn-Made Presidents: David Podell: MassBay Community College

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MassBay Community College has named David Podell (BA’78) its sixth president. Dr. Podell previously was vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Marymount Manhattan College and was senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the College of Staten Island, part of the City University of New York. Before that, he was a professor.

Dr. Podell earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s of education in child development from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a doctorate of philosophy in educational psychology from New York University.

Penn-Made Presidents: Jo Ann Rooney: Loyola University Chicago

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Jo Ann Rooney (GrEd’05) has been named Loyola University of Chicago’s  24th president. A lawyer, Dr. Rooney has a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. Previously she was president of Spalding University, a private, Catholic, doctoral-level university in Louisville, Kentucky, and Mount Ida College, a college offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in Newton, Massachusetts. She is a trustee of Regis University, a Jesuit institution in Denver.

Penn Museum: Pinnacle Award

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Penn Museum was recently honored with a Pinnacle Award from the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC). The Museum was chosen for its virtual programs that offer interactive learning for students in grades five through 12.

In the 2014-2015 academic year, the Museum offered 32 workshops, serving 1,587 virtual students. Last year, it increased to 85 workshops for nearly 3,000 students.

 The Pinnacle Award is given annually by the CILC to organizations that receive outstanding scores on program evaluations submitted by educators and other key users. Winners stand out in the areas of educational content and program delivery. At the end of the 2014–2015 academic year, the first full-scale year of the program, the Penn Museum received an Honorable Mention.

“The Penn Museum has extraordinary international collections and a wealth of expertise about the world, ancient and modern. New technologies allow us to share these treasures and knowledge across borders, allowing much greater access,” noted Ellen Owens, Merle-Smith Director of Learning Programs at the Penn Museum. “We know we have the content to enrich education at all levels, and we are thrilled to have achieved this distinction with the Pinnacle Award with our virtual programs. This is only the beginning for us.”

Allyson Mitchell, outreach program manager for the Museum, said, “The more we do, the more possibilities we see for expanded programming and audiences, including elementary school students, virtual professional development opportunities, and soon, adult learners.…Two exciting outcomes from last year were multi-program partnerships with regional schools and collaborations with a new cyber school.”

School and adult groups interested in booking a virtual visit can visit http://www.penn.museum/teachers-and-students/in-your-classroom/virtual-programs Allyson Mitchell, outreach program manager, Learning Programs, can be reached at (215) 898-8706, or by email, outreach@pennmuseum.org

Ann F. Rhoads: Rutgers Gardens Hamilton Award

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Rutgers Gardens, a public botanical garden in New Brunswick, New Jersey, has named plant pathologist Ann F. Rhoads, a recently retired associate of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, as the inaugural recipient of its Hamilton Award. Dr. Rhoads worked at the Arboretum for 36 years and retired in 2013.

The new honor recognizes “an unsung hero, a quiet leader, or patient mentor in the field of horticulture” and is named for former Rutgers professor and gardens director Bruce “Doc” Hamilton.

“The selection committee was delighted with the outstanding credentials of all the nominees but Dr. Rhoads fit the intent and spirit of this new award perfectly,” said Bob Lyons, chair of the Rutgers Gardens Advisory Board and a professor emeritus of plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware.

During her time at the Morris Arboretum, Dr. Rhoads developed a comprehensive database of state plants that has become a model for other states. She also introduced Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to the arboretum community and the entire Delaware Valley.

“I am honored to have been selected to receive the Hamilton Award,” said Dr. Rhoads.

Dr. Rhoads has served over the years as the chair of botany and director of the Pennsylvania Flora Project, and the senior botanist at the Arboretum.

Events

Morris Arboretum’s Lecture Series, Connections Beyond Our Garden—Talks on People, Plants and Place

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Photo Courtesy of Diane Burko

Morris Arboretum presents Connections Beyond Our Gardens—Talks on People, Plants and Place. Back by popular demand for its seventh year, Connections will feature three lectures by speakers who depict the fascinating connections between people and the natural world.  The lecture series kicks off on Wednesday, October 5 at 2 p.m. with nationally recognized artist, Diane Burko (above), presenting The Intersection of Art & the Environment. Advanced registration and payment are required. Please contact (215) 247-5777, ext. 125 or education@morrisarboretum.org to make a reservation.

Human Resources: Upcoming Programs September

  • September 20, 2016
  • vol 63 issue 6
  • Events
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Professional & Personal Development Programs

Improve your skills and get ahead in your career by taking advantage of the many development opportunities provided by Human Resources. You can register for programs by visiting knowledgelink.upenn.edu or contacting Learning and Education at (215) 898-3400.

Engagement Starts with You; 10/6; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Engagement starts with the employee. Research show that engaged employees are more productive and satisfied with their jobs.  In this session we will look at engagement from the individual perspective and discuss ways to increase and maintain engagement.

American Management Association’s LEAN Process Management; 10/6 & 10/7; 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; $75. Processing requests taking forever? Customers calling to complain about delays and high delivery costs? Worried you could be losing business as a result? LEAN process improvement tools offer simple fixes that will change your thinking, improve your operations, and deliver quick solutions. LEAN can be especially relevant if you have fewer resources and need to deliver more with less.

In this course, you’ll discover there are seven types of waste and five methods to eliminate it—5S, Poka Yoke, Kanban and Kaizen. You will learn the DMAIC process (define, measure, analyze, improve and control), LEAN metrics and how LEAN relates to Six Sigma. Now, you can map the customer value stream and determine which activities add value to the customer and which do not. Then, you will learn to eliminate or curtail non-value-adding activities.

A highly interactive case study will cement the learning as you participate in repairing a broken process with instructor guidance utilizing LEAN tools and principles.

Recognizing Your Employees; 10/12; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Recognizing staff both individually and as team members can help improve performance and increase engagement.  This session will provide managers with strategies for providing recognition that help employees feel appreciated and valued.

Intro to Finance for Non-financial Managers; 10/21; 1-4 p.m.; $75. The goal of this interactive workshop is to give the participant a basic understanding of budgets and financial reports so they can hold relevant discussions and render decisions based on financial data, defining key terms like ROI, EBIT, GAAP and EBITDA.  Furthermore, this half-day course will discuss commonly used financial terms, financial statements, budgets, forecasting, purchasing decisions and laws that regulate the handling of financial information. 

Quality of Worklife Workshops

Dealing with the demands of work and your personal life can be challenging. These free workshops, sponsored by Human Resources and led by experts from Penn’s Employee Assistance Program and Quality of Worklife Department, offer information and support for your personal and professional life challenges. For complete details and to register, visit www.hr.upenn.edu/myhr/registration or contact Human Resources at (215) 573-2471 or qowl@hr.upenn.edu

New and Expectant Parent Briefing; 10/5; 11 a.m.-noon; free. This is an introductory resource briefing designed for expectant parents and those who are new to parenting or child care. Participants will learn about local and University childcare and parenting resources including breastfeeding support and the nursing mothers program, childcare locators, back-up care, adjusting to new schedules and flexible work options, among other topics.

Guided Meditation–Take a Breath and Relax; 10/11; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Practice mindful breathing that focuses your attention on the present moment with kindness, compassion and awareness. Self-massage and gentle mindful movements that promote relaxation and reduce stress may also be included in the workshop. No experience is necessary.

It Costs How Much? What to Expect When Paying for Senior Care Webinar; 10/18; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Sooner or later, everyone facing the difficult challenge of how best to care for an elderly parent comes up against the issue of cost. Most people are surprised to learn that a nursing home costs over $80,000 per year or that Medicare will not pay for long-term care. This seminar will review the costs of different care options, and explain how payers such as Medicare, Medicaid, veteran’s benefits and long-term care insurance work. With this information in hand, you’ll be better equipped to make the decisions that are best for you and for your family.

Mastering Change; 10/19; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. This workshop will highlight skills for coping, handling and managing change on a day-to-day basis. It will also cover adaptive strategies to anticipate and prepare for future changes and situations.

Worklife and Wellness Resources Overview; 10/24; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Whether you are new to the Penn family or you have been an employee for quite some time, we have put together a workshop that will benefit all who attend, no matter your employment status. In 50 minutes, we will highlight 50 wellness and worklife resources that are offered on Penn’s campus. You will walk away with the tools needed to put you on the path to becoming a better balanced and healthier employee.

Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning; 10/25; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Join trust and estate lawyer Margaret Sager to learn about the importance of estate planning, managing your estate during life and disposing of your estate at your death through the use of trusts, wills, beneficiary designation forms and other planning documents. Ms. Sager is a partner with Heckscher Teillon Terrill & Sager, P.C. and is listed as one of the leading trust and estate attorneys by The Best Lawyers in America. Ms. Sager’s practice includes estate planning for high-net worth individuals, trust and estate administration, fiduciary litigation and related dispute resolution, guardianships of incapacitated persons and charitable giving.

Guided Meditation—Take a Breath and Relax; 10/28; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Practice mindful breathing that focuses your attention on the present moment with kindness, compassion, and awareness. Self-massage and gentle mindful movements that promote relaxation and reduce stress may also be included in the workshop. No experience necessary.

Mindfulness Monday: From Mind Full to Mindful; 10/31; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Mindfulness is “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Mindfulness practice develops awareness of your present thoughts and feelings to help you manage different situations. In this once-a-month experiential workshop, you’ll see how mindfulness can help you become more engaged and effective both at home and in the workplace. No prior meditation experience necessary.

Mindfulness Skills Course October 31 to November 21; 10/31; 3-4 p.m.; free. The four-week mindfulness skills course, offered by Penn’s Employee Assistance Program, is designed to teach you the core principles and practices of mindfulness, which include breathing meditation, body scan, sitting meditation and movement meditation. In addition, each class will focus on a theme linking mindfulness, stress, and quality of life, and ample time will be devoted to experiential guided meditations. To register, call EAP at 1 (888) 321-4433, select option 3, and ask to register for the mindfulness course.

Healthy Living Workshops

Get the tools you need to live well year-round. From expert nutrition and weight loss advice to exercise and disease prevention strategies, we can help you kick-start your body and embrace a healthy lifestyle. These free workshops are sponsored by Human Resources. For complete details and to register, visit www.hr.upenn.edu/myhr/registration Or contact Human Resources at (215) 573-2471 or qowl@hr.upenn.edu

Sugar Detox; 10/6; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Sugar has gotten bad rap in the media recently. Come and learn why. A Family Food registered dietician will help you identify hidden forms of sugar, how to reduce the amount of added sugars you consume, and will explain which sugars to avoid.

Yoga on the Green; 10/6; 6 p.m.; free. Student Health Services is thrilled to be partnering with Campus Recreation on a monthly yoga series. The first Thursday of every month will be a yoga class on Shoemaker Green and it is open to all faculty and staff. You can also document this activity as a qualifying bonus action item for the upcoming Be in the Know campaign.

Gentle Yoga; 10/12; 11-noon; free. Let your body reward itself with movement! Join us for this Gentle Yoga session and explore the natural movements of the spine with slow and fluid moving bends and soft twists. During this session, you will flow into modified sun salutations that loosen those tightened muscles and joints of the lower back, neck, shoulders, and wrists. And as an added bonus, you’ll get a workout in the process. Mats and props will be provided.

October Wellness Walk: Breast Cancer Awareness; 10/21; noon-1 p.m.; free. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in honor of this month, we are dedicating October’s walk to those who are currently battling breast cancer, have lost their battle to breast cancer, and who are survivors of breast cancer. We are asking everyone who can to show their support by wearing pink. It can be a pink hat, shirt, socks, jewelry, scarf, etc. The more pink the better! Meet the Center for Public Health Initiatives staff at noon, in front of College Hall, by the Ben Franklin statue, and walk a one-mile or two-mile route around Penn’s campus, returning to College Hall. Bring your water bottle and don’t forget your sneakers!

Flu Vaccine Clinic–New Bolton Center; 10/26; 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; free. Penn faculty and staff (full- and part-time) are encouraged to get their no-cost flu vaccine this season. AREUFIT will be on campus to offer Penn employees a flu shot. Registration required. Please bring your Penn ID Card, a consent form which can be found on www.hr.upenn.edu and a ‘Confirmation Statement’ for this event.

Gentle Yoga; 10/26; 11 a.m.-noon; free. Let your body reward itself with movement! Join us for this Gentle Yoga session and explore the natural movements of the spine with slow and fluid moving bends and soft twists. During this session, you will flow into modified sun salutations that loosen those tightened muscles and joints of the lower back, neck, shoulders and wrists. And as an added bonus, you’ll get a workout in the process. Mats and props will be provided.

TED Talk: A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit; 10/27; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they’re bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.

—Division of Human Resources

International Peace Day: Two Opportunities to Celebrate

  • September 20, 2016
  • vol 63 issue 6
  • Events
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Participants learn to make paper cranes at last year’s International Peace Day Offering: Origami Paper Cranes at the Penn Museum.

Experience two opportunities to celebrate peace this month in honor of the United Nations 2016 International Day of Peace (officially September 21).

International House will host Philadelphia’s first International Peace Day Festival & Market in partnership with Penn Global and Peace Day Philly on September 21. This free outdoor festival will take place from 4-7 p.m. on the front patio of International House and in Innovation Plaza, which is adjacent to International House.  The festival will feature music, performances, Peace Day activities, international food trucks, local vendors and more as participants celebrate and encourage peace and understanding among people of all cultures and nations. Scheduled performances so far include: PENNaach, the University of Pennsylvania’s all-female South Asian fusion dance troupe; Penn Atma, the University of Pennsylvania’s all-female South Asian fusion a cappella group; and Project Capoeira, which will share the art of Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, games, music and dance. 

After the festival, enjoy a free Peace Day Philly screening of The Same Heart, a powerful documentary about the impacts of inequality on the world’s children—with a prescription for change at 7 p.m. in the Ibrahim Theater at International House.

On September 24, joining Peace Day Philly, the Penn Museum invites guests of all ages to create origami paper cranes—a symbol of peace—at an afternoon craft table. Guests can write their own messages of peace on the cranes, creating one crane to hang on a special peace display and a second crane to share with a fellow museum visitor.

Purchasing Services Supplier Show: September 28

  • September 20, 2016
  • vol 63 issue 6
  • Events
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The Supplier Show, hosted by Penn Purchasing Services, will be held on Wednesday, September 28 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at 3680 Walnut Street. Approximately 50 exhibitors and sponsoring organizations including AppleOne, AOE, Promoversity, CDW and Corrigan Moving Systems will be present to share what is new in areas such as office supplies, print and design, computers and AV, travel, computer peripherals, furniture and stationery.

Information sessions from Penn’s temporary worker supplier, AppleOne, will be held at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.  The Green Purchasing Award Presentation will occur at 12:15 p.m.

Attendees are encouraged to register in advance at www.purchasing.upenn.edu/show14.php

Make plans now to attend. Lunch will be served. Remember—bring your PennCard to be eligible for door prizes.

Crimes

Weekly Crime Reports

  • September 20, 2016
  • vol 63 issue 6
  • Crimes
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The University of Pennsylvania Police Department Community Crime Report

About the Crime Report: Below are all Crimes Against Persons, Property and Crimes Against Society from the campus report for September 5-11, 2016View prior weeks' reports. —Ed.

This summary is prepared by the Division of Public Safety and includes all criminal incidents reported and made known to the University Police Department between the dates of September 5-11, 2016. The University Police actively patrol from Market Street to Baltimore Avenue and from the Schuylkill River to 43rd Street in conjunction with the Philadelphia Police. In this effort to provide you with a thorough and accurate report on public safety concerns, we hope that your increased awareness will lessen the opportunity for crime. For any concerns or suggestions regarding this report, please call the Division of Public Safety at (215) 898-4482.

09/06/16

12:38 PM

3400 Civic Center Blvd

Theft

Envelope with cash taken

09/06/16

3:13 PM

3600 Civic Center Blvd

Vandalism

Complainant’s truck keyed

09/07/16

1:10 AM

3922 Spruce St

Burglary

Property removed from residence

09/07/16

12:35 PM

3409 Walnut St

Traffic

Female wanted for scofflaw/Arrest

09/07/16

7:47 PM

3951 Baltimore Ave

Theft

Secured bike taken

09/07/16

11:09 PM

3800 Chestnut St

Other Offense

Male wanted on warrant/Arrest

09/08/16

9:47 AM

209 S 33rd St

Theft

Bike taken

09/08/16

11:33 AM

51 N 39th St

Theft

Unsecured phone taken

09/08/16

12:09 PM

3231 Walnut St

Theft

Laptop taken/Arrest

09/08/16

12:30 PM

3400 Spruce St

Theft

Unsecured wallet taken from room

09/08/16

1:23 PM

240 S 40th St

Theft

Wallet taken from desk

09/08/16

3:06 PM

51 N 39th St

Theft

iPad taken from lounge area

09/08/16

6:34 PM

4024 Ludlow St

Theft

Secured bike taken

09/08/16

9:41 PM

3901 Locust Walk

Other Offense

Male wanted on warrant/Arrest

09/09/16

1:32 PM

125 S 31st St

Theft

Currency taken from desk drawer

09/09/16

6:48 PM

3100 Walnut St

Theft

iPhone taken from duffle bag

09/10/16

10:35 AM

4100 Ludlow St

Theft

iPhone charger taken from auto

09/10/16

4:19 PM

3948 Market St

Assault

Complainant assaulted by boyfriend

18th District Report

Below are the Crimes Against Persons from the 18th District: 7 incidents with 1 arrests (2 aggravated assaults, 2 domestic assaults, 1 assault, 1 indecent assault and 1 robbery) were reported between September 5-11, 2016 by the 18th District covering the Schuylkill River to 49th Street & Market Street to Woodland Avenue.

09/05/162:15 AM4600 Walnut StRobbery
09/05/167:43 AM30th & Market StIndecent Assault
09/06/1611:52 AM1225 S Markoe StAggravated Assault
09/09/167:12 PM4100 Chester StDomestic Assault/Arrest
09/09/1611:16 PM46th & Walnut StAggravated Assault
09/10/164:36 PM3940 Market StDomestic Assault
09/11/161:03 AM240 S 46th StAssault

Bulletins

One Step Ahead: Accessing PennO365, 24/7

  • September 20, 2016
  • vol 63 issue 6
  • Bulletins
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Another tip in a series provided by the 
Offices of Information Systems & Computing 
and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

Many members of the University are now using PennO365 for their email and calendaring, leveraging the service’s numerous tools to collaborate with others at Penn, and taking advantage of the free Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus licenses available for use on personal computers and mobile devices.

To access any PennO365 resource, you simply use your PennO365 account. You can log in to your PennO365 account by providing your PennO365 user name and password. 

User name: Your PennO365 user name takes the format of your_pennKey_user_name@upenn.edu (e.g., franklin@upenn.edu). This user name should not be confused with your actual PennKey or email address, a common mistake given the formatting of the PennO365 user name.

Password: Note that your PennO365 password is not the same thing as your PennKey password, and that you should always be using distinctly different passwords for these two accounts. Should you forget your PennO365 password, go to the following page to reset it: https://office365.password.isc.upenn.edu

After logging in with your PennKey user name and password, you can view the PennO365 Password Policy (if needed) and set or reset your password.  As with any password, it is important to set a strong password and never share it with anyone under any circumstances.

For more information about PennO365, please visit: https://www.isc.upenn.edu/email

________________________________

For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/

Tennis, Anyone?

  • September 20, 2016
  • vol 63 issue 6
  • Bulletins
  • print

Penn Tennis Center is now open beginning at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday. New adult tennis classes have been introduced throughout the day for all ability levels. Try out one new class for free. Offer is valid for Cardio Tennis, Early AM Drill and Morning Drill. For more information, call (215) 573-5028.

Talk About Teaching & Learning

Coding and Data Visualization in the Science Classroom

  • September 20, 2016
  • vol 63 issue 6
  • Talk About Teaching & Learning
  • print

by Philip Nelson

How it’s gonna be: We hear a lot about the importance of training STEM students to work well in teams, and certainly that’s true. But there is another skill set that will be critical for our students’ future, one that’s much less talked about but that jumped out at me as I read Average is Over by Tyler Cowen: In many areas, even beyond STEM, the successful professionals are going to be the ones who can integrate with machines to do things that neither humans nor computers can do by themselves. We may not want to hear this, but as artificial intelligence takes over more and more routine white-collar work there will be an ever-increasing premium on this skill set.

Once, we could say that learning to use a spreadsheet, say, was adequate computer literacy. Today, however, this is the barest minimum. My message here is instead that writing code from scratch, in a general-purpose programming language, is a skill that

  • Many of even our best students have not yet acquired;
  • Is central to most kinds of current scientific research;
  • Represents an entirely new mode of mental activity distinct from the other things we teach students to do;
  • Enables an instructor to assign much more interesting and real-world problems;
  • Gets many students excited and gives them a toolkit that they can and do carry over into all their subsequent classes and beyond.

Once upon a time, the tools needed to do useful computer work fell into two classes: Some were powerful, but expensive and specialized. Others were free but tedious to use for everyday tasks. It seemed necessary for a whole department to standardize on one, and each had its fierce advocates. Today, in contrast, there are a number of free and open-source tools that give students skills with full-power, industry-standard programming languages (including implementations of the languages Python and R). Crucially, it is now easy enough to get started using these languages that my students can get going quickly, without needing to dedicate a big chunk of a semester to this preliminary material. Now yesterday’s gridlock disappears—each instructor can use whatever language she likes.

Another general-purpose skill that students must master is extracting conceptual information from graphical representations of data and models. One way to do this is to become expert at creating such representations themselves (see above left). Here, again, general-purpose computer tools are the key. Students find them frustrating at first, but immensely empowering once they have a few successes.

 

Learning to visualize the same data in different ways (top versus bottom figures) helps students to become better consumers of graphical representations, as well as empowering them to present their own work effectively. Both representations show predictions of diffraction patterns, which students compare to a real experiment to evaluate the theory embodied in the calculations.

How we get there: Many of the students in my class (Physics 280) arrive with no coding background. They need a lot of daily experience before this unnatural activity begins to feel natural. Over a decade, I’ve arrived at a method that seems to work.

• On Day 1 of  the class, I tell the students where to get a free download of  the Python language, and I distribute installation instruction. I tell them they need to come to class on Day 2 with a laptop, with this system installed and running. I pass out and collect a questionnaire.

• The questionnaire asks students for their general experience level with any computer math system. I use the responses to make teams of two students each. I assign partners so that a student from the lower self-evaluation levels is paired with one from the higher. I send everybody an e-mail with their partner’s contact, saying “even if you’re an expert, you must come to support your partner.”

• On Day 2 of class I say, “Figure out if you or your partner has more computer experience; then that person should be advising, not touching the computer.” I talk a little, show some things on the big screen, then stop and let the students try some things in the First Computer Lab section of the book. I walk around troubleshooting, along with one or two grad students. After maybe 10 minutes, I interrupt them and talk a little more, repeating till the class ends.

• Then we have some regular classes, followed by a second computer lab structured the same way but with different assigned partners, covering some new skills.

• After that I say, “If you liked either of your assigned partners, keep working together, but from now on work with whomever you like.”

This is all the explicit programming instruction I do. From then on, I spend a little class time introducing some new syntax needed for that week’s homework, and lots of instruction goes on in office hours.

The first lab session gets students started with tasks like pulling down an experimental data set from the Web, graphing it, and finding and displaying a mathematical function that resembles the data. The second lab session generally introduces simple ideas like loops, along with random number generation. This is enough to begin to see how the aggregate behavior of numbers that are individually random shows predictable behavior.

How students respond: To do research, science students need skills including graphical presentation of data and model results, numerical math and handling of datasets. But few people enjoy studying a computer math package (or math itself) in an antiseptic, context-free way. My students get motivated when they have a concrete problem, perhaps one involved in obtaining a classic result, driving them to build up the skills to solve it.

I sent out a questionnaire to every alum of this course, some as much as seven years after they took it. I expected a low response rate, but in fact 80% of those I could reach responded. Overwhelmingly, when asked what if anything they were still using from this class, they replied “my first exposure to coding as a scientific tool.” Yes, it’s humbling to find that few are using the specific discipline knowledge that I thought I had imparted! But there it is: Over and over, they said that this one skill is what they use constantly today.

I’m proud of our students, of course, and of what they are doing with their Penn education. After all, the world has a lot of huge problems, which I’m counting on them to address. If they found this skill to be transformative, then I’m glad to have been the conduit.

Philip Nelson is professor of physics and the recipient of the 2001 Ira Abrams Award for Teaching; 
he is the author with Jesse Kinder of 
A Student’s Guide to Python for Physical Modeling (Princeton Univ. Press).

_____________________________

This essay continues the series that began in the fall of 1994 as the joint creation of the
College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Lindback Society for Distinguished Teaching.